Fancy playing at being David Attenborough on your next holiday? There are cruises on every continent bringing you the opportunity to view animals in the wild, says Annabelle Bladon. Here are some of the top wildlife cruises
This Indian Ocean archipelago is home to a fantastic array of wildlife, on land and sea; spot rare black parrots deep in the mangrove forests of Praslin, Seychelles Warblers in the bird nature reserve Cousin Island, and giant tortoises on Curieuse.
Variety Cruises offers a seven-night round trip from Mahé on M/Y Pegasus, departing 1 February 2014, from €1,700pp, excluding flights.
Norway’s northern-most archipelago is Europe’s last great wilderness. The island of Spitsbergen is home to thousands of nesting Thick-billed Murres, the endemic Svalbard reindeer and the lumbering walrus – once hunted to near extinction – but cross the 80th parallel and you might just spot the Arctic Circle’s very own polar bear.
Hurtigruten has seven nights at sea, including Spitsbergen, plus one hotel night, departing on 13 August 2014, from €3,779pp excluding flights.
The Hebrides, Scotland
Puffins can be seen in large numbers from spring to early summer on the Outer Hebrides, and look out for the resident seal population on the south coast of Skye. For otters, be sure to stop at the six acre island Eilean Bàn – “White Island” in Gaelic.
From isolated islands to vast national parks, they all have one thing in common: primates. At the Tanjung Puting National Park, sightings of proboscis monkeys and orangutans are guaranteed.
Orion Expedition Cruises has a 10-night cruise, 18 September 2014, from $8,420, excluding flights.
The Amazon is teaming with wildlife such as piranha fish, spider monkeys and the pink freshwater dolphins. Explore the deep, slow-moving Amazon Basin and spot Amazonian anaconda, river turtles, three-toed sloths and the primitive Hoatzin, a bird known locally as “Stinky Turkey” – and in Equador you can watch thousands of parrots at close range.
Titan, in partnership with Uniworld, has a seven-night cruise on board Manatee Amazon Explorer from £2,895pp including Titan’s VIP Home Departure Service®, flights, meals, excursions and a post-cruise stay in Quito.
Svir River, Russia
The heart of Russia might seem to be more about architecture than nature, but where the Volga meets the Svir, a haven for wildlife begins, pleasing not only bird-lovers but also offering the opportunity to spot the Lagoda Seal – endemic to Lake Lagoda – brown bears and, if you’re lucky, the elusive lynx.
Wildlife doesn’t get much more exotic than that of the 17,500 plus islands of Indonesia. On Komodo Island, great for scuba divers and landlubbers alike, don’t get too close to the Komodo dragons – giant hissing and spitting monitor lizards considered to be the last of their kind.
SeaDream Yacht Club has a 14 day cruise on SeaDream II, 18 January 2014, costs from £6,665pp, excluding flights, with ports of call including Komodo Island.
With much of Alaska an uninhabited and impenetrable mountainous wilderness, travel by sea is a great way to see this US state, and the highlight is Alaska’s majestic marine life – humpback and killer whales, Steller sea lions, Dall’s porpoise and harbour seals.
Oceania Cruises offers a 10-day round trip from Seattle on Regatta, 17 June 2014, from £2,336pp, excluding flights, calling at Ketchikan, Juneau, Hoonah, Sitka, Wrangell, Victoria.
The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
A trip to the remote Galapagos really is the experience of a lifetime; the entire archipelago is a national park and marine reserve. Come face to face with an abundance of strange creatures and evolutionary wonders: flightless cormorants, marine iguanas and the world’s only tropical penguin – all naïve and fearless in the presence of humans.
Celebrity Cruises offers a 10-night round trip from Quito on board Celebrity Xpedition, departing 31 August 2014, from £3,136pp, excluding flights, with ports of call including Baltra, Daphne Island, North Seymour and Rábida, in the Galapagos Islands; and Santa Cruz.
La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain
The subtropical Canaries are a delight for nature lovers. La Palma, known locally as “the beautiful island”, is home to over 25 species of birds, endemic butterflies like the Canary Blue and the rare La Palma grayling, and the La Palma giant lizard – believed until very recently to be extinct.
Thomson has a round trip seven-night cruise from Santa Cruz on Thomson Spirit, departing 8 November 2013, from £685pp, including UK flights.
The Falkland Islands
Famed for its bird-watching experiences, the Falkland Islands host large colonies of birds within easy reach. Penguins are the big pull, with the majestic king, rockhopper, inquisitive Gentoo and Magellanic penguins top on the list. And its waters are teaming with wildlife – look out for spectacular blows by various species of baleen whale.
Quark Expeditions has a 21-day cruise departing 14 November or 17 November 2014/15 from £8,500pp, excluding flights, including all meals, shore landings, DVD journal and emergency evacuation insurance. Visit falklandislands.com for more information.
Forming a bridge between the continents of North and South America, Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, with opportunities to view dolphins, sea turtles and sting rays, and four species of monkey which swing through the forests of the southern Nicoya peninsula.
SeaDream Yacht Club has a seven-night round trip from Caldera on SeaDream I, 21 December 2013, from £4,666pp, excluding flights, calling at San Juan del Sur, the Tortugas Islands and more.
The 47-square mile, remote island of St Helena sits in the South Atlantic Ocean 1,200 miles from the south-west coast of Africa and 1,800 miles from South America. Go diving to discover the marine life that thrives in its clear waters, like the fish species endemic to the island, including the St Helena butterflyfish, parrot fish and flounder. You can spot African penguins, green turtles, wandering Albatross and the only surviving endemic bird of the island, the Wirebird.
There are regular 10-day voyages throughout 2014 on RMS St Helena (rms-st-helena.com). A round-trip from Cape Town costs from £2,206pp, including all meals and entertainment, excluding flights.
Whether you’re looking for a cultural holiday or relaxing break, find your perfect cruise here.